ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR THE STANLEY PEAK HIKE
I am not one that usually likes to be up before the sun; however, I have learned that one way to get me up is to ask me to go hiking. It is a brisk morning in the month of February when my mom and I decided to do the Stanley Peak hike.
The time change has still not occurred; therefore, the sun is still rising around 630am. I love doing sunrise hikes because let’s be honest that is the best time to get those golden hour photos, but that would have been quite early for this hike. I was already waking up at 530 am to be able to make it to this hike and beat the crowds.
The moon is to my left and it is ginormous and the sun is rising to my right beginning to fill the sky with purple and pink colors as I drive up the I-15 north towards Escondido to do this hike.
Needless to say, it is a beautiful, brisk morning and I am excited to do a hike I have not done before-which is rare for me considering I am a San Diego local who loves the outdoors.
This article will give you all the information you need to properly do the Stanley Peak hike.
HOW TO GET TO STANLEY PEAK
This beautiful and lesser-known hike is located in deep Escondido. Sitting at 1,983 feet, Stanley Peak can be found in Daley Ranch, San Diego. For the exact address type in 3024 La Honda Dr, Escondido, CA 92027.
This address will lead you to the parking lot of Daley Ranch. There is plenty of parking as long as you arrive early.
The Stanley Peak hike will provide you with panoramic views of North County. It is best to do this hike in the morning as most of the trails do not offer shade and Escondido can get quite hot in the summer. This hike is best done in the winter/spring months to avoid overheating.
The park is open from dawn to dusk and dogs are allowed on a leash.
STANLEY PEAK HIKE ROUTE OPTIONS
Daley Ranch is home to about 20 miles of different trails with multiple ways to get to Stanley Peak. Before entering Daley Ranch, you will find a paper Daley Ranch hike map which is available for you to take as well as some useful information about Daley Ranch.
From the top of Stanley Peak, you will be able to see Agua Tibia Mountain, the Palomar Range, the top of Rodriguez Mountain, Ramona’s Black Mountain, Mt. Woodson, and the Cuyamaca Mountains.
You will also see the west half of North County and the city of Escondido as long as it is a clear day. So, as you can see this hike leads to some pretty drastic views.
I will discuss the three different ways below. The difficulty level and mileage will vary for each route, so choose wisely. 🙂
OPTION ONE: STANLEY PEAK VIA CREEK CROSSING
This is the route I personally did, so this is the way I can speak to the most. It is an out and back trail that is 5.8 miles with a 918-foot elevation gain. It is considered to be a moderate hike. You will begin your hike by entering under the Daley Ranch sign.
Your trail will be on your right-hand side pretty immediately. You will begin by going on the Creek Crossing Trail for 0.7 miles and then take a left onto East Ridge Trail. You will be on this trail for only a short 0.2 miles.
Heads up! It is easy to miss the East Ridge Trail from the Creek Crossing trail. It is a super sharp left turn, so be on the lookout!
After being on the East Ridge Trail for 0.2 miles you will turn right onto Coyote Run Trail. This is a very narrow trail. You may feel like you are off-trail, but you are not. After being on Coyote Trail you will take a left on Sage trail.
Stay on the Sage trail for 1.2 miles and then take a slight right onto Stanley Peak trail. This is the final trail that will take you to the top of the peak for 0.7!
It begins off flat and then increases in elevation. You will see an old water tank on your right-hand side. At the summit, you will find boulders to climb on. Just be safe.
You can take a different route back or head back the same way.
OPTION TWO: STANLEY PEAK VIA CABALLO TRAIL
This trail is a little different and actually does not start at Daley Ranch. It begins at the Caballo trail which is near the Escondido Humane Society complex. This trail begins by switchbacking up the side of a hill through the chaparral.
The trail begins to climb up into a small canyon. You will pass a few other trails along the way, so just make sure you continue to go straight to avoid turning onto the wrong trail. Around the 1.1 mile marker, the Quail Run trail will branch off from the Caballo Trail and you will begin hiking up a ridge.
This portion of the trail is only 0.6miles. It makes for a shortcut between the Caballo and Sage trail. (If you don’t take this route you will be adding an additional 2 miles to your hike)
You should begin to start seeing views of the peak! Finally, when the Quail Run trail connects with the Sage Trail you will make a right-hand turn and then begin climbing up.
After finishing this climb, the Sage trail will come over a bump and you will begin your lengthy flat stretch before reaching a junction that leads up to Stanley Peak.
At the junction, you will turn right and enter an expansive meadow filled with oaks. At the end of the meadow, the trail will bend to the right. Continue on the trail as it climbs up a little more until you reach the peak.
The trail wraps around the backside of the peak and then emerges into the boulders that are located on top of the peak. This route tends to be less crowded, however, the mileage is longer. It can vary from 6.9-7.8 miles depending on which exact route you take from the Caballo trailhead.
OPTION THREE: STANLEY PEAK VIA SAGE TRAIL
This loop is about 7.4 miles long. So, if you are looking for a real workout then I recommend this trail. This hike is actually fairly simple. You will begin your hike on the Cabrio trail. The Cabrio trail splits two ways after 0.6 miles. Take the right-hand path.
At 1.1 miles the trail splits again and this time you will vear left. You will continue on the Cabrio trail for another 0.6 miles. At this point, you will then turn right onto the Sage trail.
Remain on the Sage trail until you hit 3 miles. You will then vear onto the Stanley Peak trail. Finish hiking up to the top to reach Stanley Peak.
To get back to your car just follow the same route back down.
OPTION FOUR: MAKE YOUR OWN WAY
As previously stated, there are so many different routes you could take to actually get to Stanley Peak. If you are not following any of the All Trails hike route suggestions then you can choose to make your own route. Here is a sample route I recommend.
This will be a counter-clockwise loop starting at the Daley Ranch Parking lot. Begin your hike by following the creek crossing trail for about 0.7 miles which then ends at the East Ridge trail. From here turn right and then turn left onto the sage trail.
Continue on Sage trail. You will pass the Caballo Trail, Coyote Run, Quail Run trail and the Old Tank Spur. Finally, you will reach the Stanley peak trail. Turn right and follow it up to the summit.
On our way back down you will go past a lake. When you come to the crossing of the Stanley peak trail and the Sage trail bear right and this will take you past Mallard Lake.
You will then continue on Sage trail toward the old Ranch House. You can finish the hike on the Ranch House trail back to the parking lot.
Maybe you are a first-time hiker or maybe you are a regular, regardless everyone could always use some inspirational gear for hiking. Below are some of my most favorite products that I always take with me when I go hiking.
1.Daypack hiking bag. I have a Gregory daypack pack and I just purchased this 30L daypack bag for hiking. I am excited to have a little more space to carry more!
2. I always bring my camelback with me when I go hiking. It is super important to stay hydrated, especially when out on this hike.
3. Hiking pants: Alright, I am going to be honest with you guys, I wear my lululemon Align pants for almost every exercise activity I do. Here they are if you have never tried them. THEY ARE AMAZING
4. Want to know what photography gear I use? You can check it out here. I just got a new lens for my camera and I am in love. I literally bring my camera with me everywhere now.
5. I personally don’t have this hat, but my mom was wearing this hat on the hike and I tried it on and I plan on buying it. 1. It was cute 2. I have a smaller head and hats tend to go over my ears when I wear them and this one doesn’t and lastly it is a sweat-wicking hat which is great for hiking.
TIPS FROM A LOCAL
This trail is super popular for mountain biking, so always be aware of them and do your best to stay out of there way. Most of the time, the bikers are respectful of the hikers; however, occasionally you will get a mountain biker who is going so fast it is hard for them to stop.
Once you reach the top, you may find a medal box below one of the boulders. If you open this box, inside you will find a pen and notebook paper. This is to document your name and date that you reached Stanley peak.
Please sign the book and then return the paper and pen to the box. Please close the box completely, so that when it rains the paper will not get wet.
If you choose to do this hike in the summer, first off please be careful! Bring lots of water as this hike does not have much shade and it can get in the upper 90 degrees F in the summertime. Also, beware of rattlesnakes if you do choose to do this hike in the summertime.
FINAL THOUGHTS FROM YOUR OUTDOOR LOVING SAN DIEGO GIRL
I don’t doubt that you will enjoy this hike! You will see chaparral-covered slopes, oak woodlands, meadows, peaks, climbing boulders and amazing views of north county San Diego.
This was such a fun hike to do considering I had never done it before even as a San Diego local resident. Let me know in the comments below if you have done this hike or if you recommend any other hikes!
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